All Tea No Shade with Andrea Lo.
Sometimes, I hate running into people.
I loathe making polite conversation with acquaintances, when I’m in a rush to go somewhere — or when I’m just not in the right state of mind to chit-chat. Examples: in the elevator; early in the morning or after a long day at work; when I’m starving (hangry); and least of all, on the MTR. (So basically, 80 percent of the time.)
When I simply don’t know the other person well enough, it’s extremely painful to have to come up with BS about the weather/plans for the weekend/upcoming travel destinations/how work is going/wedding stuff/baby stuff.
It didn’t used to be such a problem until I moved to the Sheung Wan/Sai Ying Pun border. Now it’s happening too frequently for me to feel okay about it.
Thinking that I was the only one, I’ve always kept these thoughts to myself. Until recently, when I decided to let loose on group chat and vent my frustrations on bumping into someone I didn’t know too well.
Everyone else confessed they hate it just as much.
“I always slow down for a few steps or pretend to have to take another route when I leave work so I don’t have to do the awkward five-minute walk to the MTR,” G said.
“One time, I stepped out of a train carriage when I saw a co-worker enter the same one,” admitted M.
For me, I once saw someone I knew standing in front of me in an elevator at an MTR station. I froze, and decided to stay in it for fear of having to walk to the platform with them (and God forbid, sit next to them during our journey).
Just to be clear, I don’t have a problem running into people I’m close with, or sitting next to them on a commute. It’s the people you don’t know well enough where you end up stuck, constantly thinking of what to say next to fill the silence.
Instead of these vacuous conversations, our time is so much better spent catching up on the news, listening to podcasts, or whatever it is that people do on their phones on the MTR and in the elevator.
As we shared tips on avoiding people we know, T confessed that years ago, he made an agreement with a co-worker who lived in the same neighborhood as him. They would enter the train carriage and sit next to each other in silence throughout their commute. “We liked each other enough to be able to be up front about not wanting to chat while traveling.”
As the revelations poured in, I thought: Why are we pretending to make these forced conversations with each other, when all of us clearly hate it?
“Because it’s nice to be polite and this is how society doesn’t devolve into barbarism,” G replied.
Love it? Hate it? Tell Andrea all about it: email@example.com.